How to maximise your finances in 2016

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how to maziminse your finances with ofgenDo you make New Year’s Resolutions?

According to the research institute ‘Statistic Brain’, the third most popular New Year’s Resolution for 2015 was ‘Spend Less, Save More’.

With the popularity of sites that help you save money, an explosion of support groups on Facebook and the recent BBC hit series “Eat Well for Less”, I’m betting those resolutions will be the same this year. Up there with losing weight, getting fit and quitting smoking, maximising finances is something close to everyone’s heart.

It might be because your personal circumstances require it, or perhaps you’re planning ahead for a comfortable retirement. Or maybe your goal is to pay off the mortgage quickly and invest in some renewable energy solutions for your home.

Whatever your reason maximising your finances is something we should all do, so we can get through challenging times if they arise. Plus as a parent, it’s good to model a positive attitude to money to your children.

What I love about my green lifestyle is it can actually SAVE me money, meaning I can do great things for the planet whilst benefiting my bank balance! For example meal planning reduces food waste and can save the average family over £50 per month. Refilling your own water bottle can save £150 a year on bought drinks (at the same time reducing the air miles associated with bottled water). And using gifting economy sites like Freecycle means another man’s trash really can be another man’s treasure.

But one of the foundations of maximising your finances is to know where your money is going. You have to know what you’re dealing with in order to make changes. And it can be scary! There’s no other way around this than to keep a record of everything you spend for a couple of months so you can track patterns. I personally use a simple app on my iphone, but if you prefer a spreadsheet style, this free budgeting tool from This Is Money is comprehensive and easy to use.

Once you know where your money is going, you can then make changes. I was shocked to see how much I was spending on food, so that’s where I made changes last year to our lifestyle. By simply shopping online, rather than going into the store, I’ve knocked about £200 per month from our food bill. And thanks to our infamous ‘CORN’ nights (Clear out Refrigerator Now), we no longer have much food waste.

For you it might be travel costs, entertainment or utility bills that are taking a lion’s share of your budget. So now it’s time to ask friends to keep you accountable, join Facebook groups for tips or visit a site such as “Be an Energy Shopper”, where you can find links to price comparison websites. Did you know, for instance, you can save up to £200 by switching energy suppliers?

Once you’ve reduced as much of your expenditure as possible, you can then look into paying off loans and credit cards and setting up a savings plan for that all important rainy day (or perhaps some solar panels for the house!).

I’d love to hear your resolutions for 2016 – Do they revolve around money and do they tie in with any eco-friendly plans for the year?

Disclosure. This is a sponsored post commissioned by Ofgem’s Go Energy Shopping website

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